Fra Bartolommeo Di Pagholo (1475-1517), the Italian historical and portrait painter, - known also as Baccio (short for Bartolommeo) Bella Porta (because he lived near the Porta Romana) was born at Soffignano, near Florence, in 1475, and died at Florence in 1517. He received the first elements of his artistic education from Cosimo Roselli; and after leaving him, devoted himself to the study of the great works of Leonardo da Vinci. Of his early productions, which are distinguished for their grace and beauty, the most important is the fresco of the Last Judgment, in which he was assisted by his friend Mariotto Albertinelli. While he was engaged upon some pieces for the convent of the Dominican friars, he made the acquaintance of Savonarola, who quickly acquired great influence over him, and Bartolommeo was so affected by his cruel death, that he soon after entered the convent, and for some years gave up his art. He had not long resumed it, in obedience to his superior, when Raphael came to Florence and formed a close friendship with him. Bartolommeo learned from the younger artist the rules of perspective, in which he was so skilled, while Raphael owes to the frate the improvement in his colouring and handling of drapery, which was noticeable in the works he produced after their meeting.
Some years afterwards he visited Rome, and was struck with admiration and a feeling of his own inferiority when he contemplated the masterpieces of Michelangelo and Raphael. With the latter, however, he remained on the most friendly terms, and when he departed from Rome, left in his hands two unfinished pictures which Raphael completed. Fra Bartolommeo's figures had generally been small and draped. These qualities were alleged against him as defects, and to prove that his style was not the result of want of power, he painted the magnificent figure of St Mark (his masterpiece, at Florence), and the undraped figure of St Sebastian. The latter was so well designed, so naturally and beautifully coloured, and so strongly expressive of suffering and agony, that it was found necessary to remove it from the place where it had been exhibited in the chapel of a convent. The majority of Bartolommeo's compositions are altar-pieces. They are remarkable for skill in the massing of light and shade, richness and delicacy of colouring, and for the admirable style in which the drapery of the figures is handled, Bartolommeo having been the first to introduce and use the lay-figure with joints.